Violence and civilian deaths drop in Iraq
By Felix Lowe and agencies
Last Updated: 8:46am BST 01/10/2007 Telegraph
The number of civilians killed during violence in Iraq dropped by almost 50 per cent in September, US figures reveal.
Violence during Ramadan also dropped by almost 40 per cent from last year, despite warnings from al-Qa'eda that it would increase operations during the Muslim holy month.
The Pentagon figures also show 72 American military deaths last month, the lowest monthly figure since July last year, when Washington poured an extra surge of 30,000 US troops into the war-torn country.
The US figures showed that 884 Iraqi civilians were killed in September, which was the lowest level recorded this year and down from 1,773 in August.The number of injured civilians was also down to 850 from 1,559.
Officials also announced that US and Iraqi forces had killed more than 60 insurgents and militia fighters in intense battles over the weekend.
"Coalition forces have dealt significant blows to al-Qa'eda Iraq in recent months, including the recent killing of the Tunisian head of the foreign fighter network in Iraq and the blows struck in the past 24 hours," military spokesman Col Steven Boylan said.
A US soldier, however, became the 72nd victim in Iraq this month after he was killed by gunfire in east Baghdad yesterday.
The overall toll of American losses since the March 2003 invasion now stands at 3,803.
US military officials attributed the reduction of violence during Ramadan to the change of strategy of moving troops out of large bases and into smaller combat zones.
September figures were also not skewed by large individual terrorist attacks, such as the massive truck bombings which killed 411 people in the minority Yazidi community in northern Iraq on Aug 14.